Monday, August 27, 2012

Be Subordinate? What? - Homily Notes from 21st Sunday in OT

            “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” Joshua was faced with a decision: serve the Lord. Or not. And he was the leader of his home and he spoke for the nation. How he, as a man, decided would be the way that his home and his country would go. This was his responsibility as a man. Go big or go home. And so he chose: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” He was called to lead them to heaven.

Post-Modernism and the Sexual Revolution: Redefining the Sexes

            In the 1960s, the world saw the culmination of what is called “post-modernism.” Post-modernism, very briefly described, is a view of the world where Things do not have Truth in themselves; we give things their “Meaning.” This is because post-modernism is founded on the belief that there is no God. So, there are no things that are Truly Beautiful; rather, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” And so, we see in post-modern art the exultation of The Broken and The Shattered, the passing off of the ugly as being beautiful.
Now, I say that the 1960s saw the culmination of post-modernism because in the 1960s, we saw the Sexual Revolution. The Sexual Revolution wasn’t just simply “Make Love, Not War” (that was a kind of by-product). Rather, the Sexual Revolution was firstly about the sexes: what it means to be man and what it means to be woman. Post-modernism says that there is no Truth specific to “man” nor specific to “woman.” Rather, we define what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. (This is, of course, because post-modernism has done away with God, the One who “created them male and female” as we read in the first book of Sacred Scripture).
It was now up to us to define what being a man and being a woman was, without any recourse to God. At the same time, there arose a movement for women’s equality. At first, this movement was a good thing. Men and women ARE equal. They both have equal dignity. Equality, notice, is a measurement of value. Men and women are of the same value. And this is, of course, because both man and woman are made in the image of God. So, in the 1960s, this was rightly extolled.
But because this movement moved from its foundations in God (it was post-modern), the movement for women’s equality morphed into a movement for “sameness.” The battle cry was: “Anything you can do, I can do better.” Or, “Women are no different than men.” And so you would see the Battle of the Sexes—even on the tennis court (see Bobby Riggs vs. Billy Jean King in 1973). The ultimate irony in this was that while “Make Love, Not War” was being preached regarding the Vietnam War, it should have been a message preached between the sexes.
The problem with this new feminist movement was that it no longer simply sought equality (which dealt with value), but identity. Women no longer found their identity in God and so they looked to what they envied: the man. Women thus aspired to become more like men in all things (which was the premise for “Sex and the City”). And men? Well, they too were searching for their identity. The post-modern world, however, could not provide them a good answer. So the result was that men either looked to women (and thus became feminine) or, worse, men devolved into the selfish, dependent beings that had once been: namely, boys. In these more recent years, so many men have devolved into something worse: the couch potato.
What we see in the post-modernist Sexual Revolution of the 1960s and current years is really a re-presenting of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. The man, Adam, is distracted away from his bride and does not fulfill his identity; and his bride, knowing she is not cherished for who she is, reaches out for the new identity in the apple, the promise of not just being a man, but of being God.

The Scandal and Mystery of Ephesians 5: Incarnation, Cross, and Marriage

It is in this backdrop that we, as a people who have been infected with post-modern thought, approach today’s second reading. “Husbands love your wives… Wives, be subordinate to your husbands…” (Please, do not crucify me quite yet….)
Through the lens of post-modernism, these lines are offensive. It seems as though Paul is saying that women are of less value (equality) than men. This would be offensive. But Paul is not saying that. Paul is talking about identity and what it means to be a man and a woman and where this identity is found. (And let us be clear: there have been many men who read this passage in the same post-modern light and use it as rationale to treat their wives like dirt). Let us remove these post-modern lenses and see what Paul is really saying.
If we want to know the key to the passage, we must look to the end. At the end, we realize that Paul has been talking in analogy the whole time. The passage, therefore, isn’t firstly about husbands and wives—it’s about The Husband and The Wife: namely, Jesus and the Church. All this time, Paul has been trying to describe Jesus as the Groom and the Church as the Bride and, in order to do this, he must use human imagery. And so, we read the passage in reverse: read it through the lens of Jesus’ life:

1) “a man shall leave his father… and be joined to his wife”
This is salvation history in a nutshell; the reason for the incarnation. Jesus departs the heavenly realm and becomes incarnate here on earth, the Word literally joining himself to our flesh [the bride], and then, as he dies on the cross and offers his body in the Eucharist to His Bride (as the eternal covenant-- wedding vow), his bride [the Church] in joined to Him as She receives Him in divine ecstasy. The two literally become one flesh. You are the Bride. God is the Bridegroom. (see Isaiah 62).

2) “no one hates his own flesh, but rather nourishes and cherishes it even as Christ does the Church”
Do you see how the Incarnation is so crucial here? The great explosion of wonderful goodness is that Jesus nourishes our flesh with his own. He does not hate his flesh—that is, he does not hate humanity. But loves it so much that He lays down his own in self-offering for the redemption of our flesh.

And so Paul writes:

            3) he handed himself over for her “to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath…”
That’s the Crucifixion. But notice too, he cleanses the bride by “water and the word.” [“Go out… and baptize in the name [word] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit….”] And so we, who are immersed in the waters of baptism are immersed into His death so that, coming out of the waters we who have been made holy might partake in His life. (see Romans 6:3-5)

4) “That he might present to himself [???] the church in splendor… that she might be holy and without blemish”
There is too much to say here. But think the last chapters of the Book of Revelation or all the passages where Jesus talks about weddings and grooms and brides. There is ecstasy here and the Divine Marriage. Read Song of Songs….

Now, Paul has been describing the vocation of Jesus, the Groom. The Groom’s primary purpose in this marriage is to lead his wife to heaven. Jesus embraces the Cross. Why? To bring us, the Church, his Bride, to heaven. That’s the purpose—so that we might participate in the divine ecstasy that comes in the Divine Marriage. And so, Paul exhorts husbands: “love your wives as Christ loves the Church….”

The Vocation of the Husband: To Make Love, Not War

Some of you have probably seen the movie Fireproof. In brief, there’s a man named Caleb and he’s married to Katherine. Caleb and Katherine’s marriage is on the rocks. Caleb’s trying to save it. And so Caleb puts in a good twenty days: he changes the oil to the car, does the laundry, cleans the house, makes Katherine dinner, brings her flowers. But Katherine hasn’t been responding; in fact, Caleb still feels like a stranger in his own home. And Caleb is very, very frustrated. So Caleb goes and talks with his dad. They’re outside and Caleb starts yelling at his dad: “How am I supposed to show love to somebody over and over and over, who constantly rejects me?”
Caleb’s dad starts leaning against a large wooden beam. The camera then begins to pan out and the audience sees that the beam is actually a part of a large wooden cross. Caleb sees the Cross too and is indignant: “Dad, that’s not what I’m doing…. That’s not what this is about!”
His dad interjects:
“Son, you just asked me, how can someone show love over and over again when they are constantly rejected? Caleb, the answer is, you can’t love her because you can’t give her what you don’t have. I couldn’t truly love your mother until I understood what love truly was. It’s not because I get some reward out of it. I made the decision to love your mother whether she deserves it or not. Son, God loves you even though you do not deserve it. Even though you’ve rejected him, spat in his face. God sent Jesus to die on the cross and to take the punishment for your sin because he loves you. The Cross was offensive to me until I came to it. But when I did, Jesus Christ changed my life. That’s when I truly began  to love your mom. Son, I can’t settle this for you. This is between you and the Lord”—
notice, “between you and the Lord.” If you’re having marriage troubles right now. The issue isn’t simply between you and your spouse. It is between you and the Lord.
Caleb’s dad continues:
“Son, I love you too much not to tell you the truth. Can’t you see that you need Him? Can’t you see that you need his forgiveness? Will you trust him with your wife (life?)”

You see, I hear in this not just the marriage between Caleb and Katherine. I hear the marriage of Jesus and the Church. Jesus, who seeing the crucifixion that awaits him, agonizes in the Garden and speaks with His father, and who ultimately dies for his bride, the Church.

Husbands, this is our calling and it's tough to do. You see, for many of us, we have been instructed by the world that our identity as men is to “bring home the bacon.” But is that the fulfillment of our identity as men? Just yesterday, I was at my sister’s graduation from nursing school. And one of the commencement speakers, a famous nurse, warned the nurses to avoid working so hard that they came down with “compassion fatigue.” In a nutshell, compassion fatigue is caring so much about your work and about the people you work with that when you come home, you have nothing left to give to the real and more important relationships. We work so hard at work that we’ve sacrificed the people we are working to bring the bacon home for! And I love bacon, and we must bring home the bacon, but our Job Number One is not the bacon, but in getting our families to heaven. The world has our identity upside-down. We have to turn it right-side-up. That's our mission! "We will serve the Lord!"-- not bacon.
It’s hard to put ourselves out there—to say to our families at night that we need to pray together as a family (especially when we ourselves might struggle to pray). Brothers, can’t we see, then, that we can’t do this on our own? We need Jesus. And if we can't trust Jesus, then how can our wives be subordinate to us who are supposed to image him? If our wives do not follow us, we have only to look at ourselves who are also part of the Church for not being subordinate to the Church's husband: Jesus.

Our kids need us to do this, to find our identity in Christ. Because they’re watching us. They see whether or not we cherish our wives. They notice whether or not we are pulling out the chair for her or holding open the door. They notice if we’re always in opposite rooms or if we’re yelling and arguing. They notice when we make fun of our spouse and when we don’t respect the one we’ve married. They notice when we are bitter and when we fail to forgive. In a word, they notice when we are not being Jesus—the One we are to image.
Jesus washed Peter’s feet not only to make Peter his equal, but also to instruct Peter how he was to rule as a man: as the servant-king. And don’t our children need to know how to rule by service? Isn’t this the way of peace?
Where marriage goes, goes the family. And where family goes, goes the community. And where the community goes, goes the city. And the city, the nation. And the nation, the world. And suddenly we realize the truism of the 1960s: really: “Make love, not war.” War at home will mean war abroad. But love, love at home....
This is what Paul is telling us men, husbands: We must be like Jesus who, even as we are being crucified, we continue to love the Church, being forgiving and kind-- even when those around us reject us. The forgiveness must be initiated by us. We must take this first step—and yes, it could be rejected—and that scares us and can be discouraging. But we have courage. Our first vocation is to lead our wives and our families to heaven. We will serve the Lord!

The Vocation of the Wife: To Cultivate the Receptive Church

And so, my sisters in the Lord, wives: you have tremendous power. You can reject your husband’s offer of forgiveness and reconciliation. You can tell your husband not to hold the door open. You can spurn his hard work and take it for granted. You could tell him by the thousand little actions that you do and words you say each day that you don’t need him and that you can do everything yourself.
Sure, you could do it yourself… But if you do, you will become worried and worrisome. You will lose trust and faith. And your children won’t look for a savior either—they will look only to themselves. And they will grow like the wife’s, their mom’s, self-reliant heart: cold, bitter, and alone.
And that’s what so many in the Church say to Jesus today: “Jesus, I don’t need you.” “Husband, I can do it myself.” And they become self-reliant and godless and cold and bitter and alone. Does that not describe so many young adults in today's world?
Wives, you need to let your husband serve you. This is where he finds his identity; for to serve you is to be Christ. Will you let your husband be Christ for you? Your children need to see this.
And wives, you need to let yourself be served, because this is where the world receives its civility. That there are things beautiful and worth serving, something really worth laying down one's life for. And if you cannot let yourself be served, you who image the Church, then how can you expect your husband and children who themselves are part of the Church, to find a relationship with Christ their savior?

This is why Paul says, “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands.” This isn’t saying that you are less valuable or that you are weak or whatnot. No, it is rather that you are the Father’s chosen bride! You have so much value! You should be served—not because you’re weak (we know you can do it yourself)—but because you have so great a dignity: you image the Church, the one who gives birth to new life!

If we don’t need a savior, then the husband will never be the hero we need him to be, that he knows he can be. And are we talking about Jesus or the men now? Both.
And if your husband cherished you and listened to you and had your best interests in mind, then why wouldn't you follow him? It would be silly—because you’d be choosing against yourself. And are we now talking about the Church or the wives? Both.


Culturally, so many husbands and wives have passively re-defined their identities as male and female, and as a result have drastically altered their value and responsibilities as husband and wife. The result has been a world of brokenness—which is itself a hallmark of post-modernism.
TRUST needs to be re-established. HEALING needs to begin. FORGIVENESS must pour forth. This begins with the Cross and with the man—the man who must find himself on his knees before the Savior and then in the reception of the gift, the grace, of being a man, a husband, a hero. The wife, like Mary (who is the model and mother of the Bride, the Church), must learn receptivity to this gift; for only then will she grow in and understand her identity as wife and mother.
And yes, this could all be rejected, like those who mindlessly receive Jesus in this Eucharist (“this is my body, given up for you”) and do not change. But Jesus gives us his body and blood here once more, a renewal of the covenant, the marriage vows. Husbands and wives, find here the source and identity of our vocation. Re-discover your identity. Stand up for your family and lead them to heaven. Pray as a family tonight. Be as one flesh in prayer.
Yes! “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Materialism and Spiritualism - Homily Notes for 18th Sunday

Brothers and sisters: I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,in the futility of their mind

You must no longer live as the Gentiles do… in the futility of their mind….
What is futility? It is a lack of effectiveness, a lack of purpose or meaning. To be futile is to be useless, fruitless. It is to plant crops in the spring, only to see a drought—farming becoming futile: fruitless.
Paul exhorts us, then, not to be futile, not to live as the Gentiles do.
But what does Paul mean, “To live as the Gentiles do”? How would our living be different if we lived as though there wasn’t a personal God present among us?

Let's look at two such worldviews.

"But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!"

            The first way is materialism. Materialism is, simply, the belief that “what you see is what you get.” Materialism is the belief that when it comes to the world, the only thing that “is” is material stuff, matter—nothing of spirit, nothing mysterious, nothing ‘beneath the surface.’ What you see is what you get. This would adversely affect one’s belief in the Eucharist: if all that the Eucharist is is what we see, then the Eucharist is just bread (because bread is all that we see). Likewise with marriage: all that the materialist sees is the man and the woman; he doesn’t see the sacramental bond, the two becoming one flesh, the participation in the Trinity. And so marriage for the materialist is just a contract; the sacrament doesn’t actually change the man and woman. And, of course, since one cannot see God, the materialist is quick to believe that God does not exist—or is, at best, quite absent.
So how does the materialist explain himself in the world? Where does he come from? First, he sees himself as a product of evolution or of chance or the product of chemicals randomly coming together. His morality, likewise, is grounded in the processes of chemical reactions coming together or chance or, in the case of evolution, the Darwinian theory of “survival of the fittest.” “Survival of the fittest" is the theory that species interact and adapt according to threats and environment, and those species that do not adapt or are weak—those species will not survive. Only the fittest survive. With such a moral system, “right” and “wrong” are not defined in terms of God’s laws, but in terms of who is stronger. And bigger. And faster.
When a materialist is faced with the logical consequences of his worldview, however, he finds it tough to live out. So, for example, say you are at a bar with your materialistic friend. Let’s say he’s shorter than you and he has ponied-up to the bar to get a drink. Because you are snarky, you decide to take his morality out for a spin. And so you push him out the way and cut in line to get a drink first. Your friend is offended and says “Hey, that’s not fair!” But what about his morality makes what you did "not fair"? You’ve just lived his morality. You've lived out "survival of the fittest"! The fact is: if there is no God nor an objective ground for morality other than “survival of the fittest” or chance, then who is to say that you can’t push your friend out of the way?
(Of course, because your friend finds your action unfair reveals to us that he does have a morality beyond survival of the fittest. He does believe in right and wrong—but how are those defined? He can’t tell us where he gets those notions).
The reality is that he and many people define right and wrong by whether or not they like something. “I do not like this, so that must be wrong.” Or, “I do like this, so that must be right.” In such a worldview, however, morality is arbitrary. It’s just a matter of “taste” or how we’re feeling that day.

A professor lecturing on ethics once started his class with exactly that sentiment. He said: “there is no objective right and wrong. Ethics exist only culturally and on a consensus…” He then started to talk about the Eskimos near the Bering Straight who, when their elderly become too sick to take care of, simply send their elderly into the Bering Sea to die.
Is the professor’s conclusion right?—that right and wrong are simply a matter of culture and taste? A student stood up in that class and asked: “Professor, according to what you have just said about cultural consensus and right and wrong, then you mean that we can’t say that what Hitler did was wrong? You mean to say that the best we can say is that “we don’t like what he did” and “most people don’t like what he did”? Why shouldn’t Hitler obliterate those he perceives to be inferior, then?—especially when the consensus of his country is ok with it (or is at least apathetic towards it)? How could we stand up and say, “No, that’s wrong”?
If there is no God and the world is simply the result of the survival of the fittest or of chance, then we really cannot say of anything—even something as terrible as the holocaust—that that is objectively right or wrong. There cannot be “black and white”—there can only be gray. All fifty shades of it.

But even the atheist perceives that there is right and wrong. For example, one of the biggest reasons I see that a person becomes an atheist is the Problem of Evil. It goes like this: “If there exists an all-good and all-powerful God, then He would not allow evil and suffering to exist. But since there is evil and suffering in the world, then an all-good, all-powerful God must not exist.” (Of course, I could explain to the atheist about how some suffering has value-- like the Olympian who works hard for a gold medal-- and how evil is simply the absence of God--like cold is the absence of heat--but instead of doing that, I enter into the atheist’s materialistic worldview and I ask him: “where did you get that notion of right and wrong?”)
The atheist cannot tell me where he got that notion of fairness. And that is ironic, not only because he can’t tell me the foundation of his belief, but also because he uses the Christian worldview of good and evil to try to explain away God. Our worldview predicated upon God is the only way he could explain something as objectively evil. And yet, the atheist uses that as a means to try and undermine God's existence. Strange.

And so, it goes without saying that the futility of the Gentile’s mind affects the reality of knowledge. Let's step into the unbeliever’s worldview once more: if there is no God and everything is reducible to matter and chemicals and chance, then even our thoughts are simply reducible to chemicals and chance. At which point, the atheist can’t be mad at us for believing, because belief itself would just the result of chemicals and chance—and his beliefs would be the result of chemicals and chance too! So why even debate or study? Why write things down or try to convince, especially if it's all due to pre-determined processes or processes of chance?
But atheists debate and write and want to convince. This means that they do believe that thinking is more than just chemicals and chance. But when pressed on what other kind of foundation that might be, the atheist undermines the primacy of place he gives his faculty reason and says, “well, we just can’t know.”
And that’s ironic: here, the unbeliever wants to be rational, but he holds an irrational view of the universe. He simply says: “nobody knows for sure; but I’m sure you’re wrong.” That sounds like an ungrounded statement of belief to me—like a kind of fideism of which people like Bill Maher accuse Christians.

“The Mystery of Faith”

At the heart of the Mass, immediately after the consecration, the priest says over the Eucharist: “The Mystery of Faith.” When I was growing up, I understood that “mystery” meant something that we could not know, something that had no answer. But that’s not what mystery is. Mystery is like the ocean: mystery is vast and knowable, but not completely knowable at once. We must probe its depths. This is what faith does. Faith is not blindness, but the means by which diving into that ocean is possible-- like in a submarine and exploring the treasures the ocean holds. Therefore, mystery and faith are not blindness—rather, there is great light in them; we know things for certain in them.
The reality is, it’s the atheist and materialist’s views that are blind: they say, “well, we just can’t know.” For them, the God and the world aren't mysterious. They are dead.

"This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."

            Before we end today’s reflection, we must look at the other side of the Gentile’s futile mind; because, you see, materialism was the reaction to something, namely: spiritualism. Spiritualism is the belief that everything is reducible to spirit. For the spiritualist, matter is of little or no value. Now, I’m not critiquing the Holy Spirit or how we are called to lead a spiritual life. Rather, I am talking about an over-spiritualization of things like that we would see in the New Age movements where everything is ethereal and spiritual and connected without distinction. We also see it in some forms of our brothers and sisters in Protestant communities. This last one might surprise you. So, let’s talk about that.
            If you’ve ever had someone close to you die, you’ve probably had someone come up to you and try to comfort you by saying: “Well, she’s an angel in heaven now.” But that’s trite. And it’s also wrong. We don’t become angels when we die. When we die, our body and soul are separated, yes. Our bodies decompose and our souls go either to hell—if we have not followed God’s laws—or to heaven—if we have. (I’ll save purgatory for another homily…). Now, we are a soul either in hell or heaven UNTIL the final judgment on the last day WHEN there is then the resurrection of the body. Our bodies are raised up, perfected and glorified (if we are in heaven) and then re-joined to our soul. In heaven, we are what we are here on earth: human beings; fleshy spirits; spiritualized bodies. A great difference is the glory. But we are not angels. Angels are spirit. They have no material body. But we do. And so does Jesus.
            The spiritualist denies the importance of matter. And so they focus on how Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the Church and how the Church is a spiritual community. What they forget is that the Holy Spirit literally came upon matter: upon the apostles. And so the Church has a body-- it has structure and visible form. The spiritualist forgets that God has used matter all throughout His history: He used water in a flood, a bush on fire, an sea of water, manna, a nation of people, a king, prophets, a woman,… They forget that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary-- and God, who is Spirit, became FLESH. Matter. This does not change when Jesus ascends into heaven body and soul, nor does it change when the Holy Spirit comes upon the bodies and souls of the apostles. So too, God still uses material which He imbues with the Holy Spirit when He uses water in baptism, bread and wine in the Eucharist, and the person and words of a priest in the confessional.
            The spiritualist’s worldview, therefore, doesn't like the Catholic Church or Her sacraments. "I don't need any mediator between me and God" he says. This worldview can be boiled down into to the acronym WWJD—you know the bracelets: “What Would Jesus Do?” The problem with that acronym is that it requires a subordinating clause: “What would Jesus do IF….” If what? “… If He was here.” What would Jesus do if He was here. Now, we all understand the point of the bracelet: it’s a reminder to be moral. It’s to remind us: “If Jesus were in my moral quandary right now, what would he do?”
            The problem with that is, it places Jesus at a distance and it makes Him purely spiritual. He is remote. Not only that, but it then leaves it up to us to come up with our own morality based on what we think Jesus would do-- not on what He actually did and does. What the bracelet should say is: “Jesus”—we’re being personal because He is here—“Jesus, what are you doing and what have you done?” This would correctly describe reality: that Jesus isn’t just spiritually present or symbolically present, but that He is really present and has been really present. And that’s why we address Him personally: “Jesus…” Instead of just spiritually thinking about Him as like a concept.

            Ultimately, the spiritualist is not much different than the materialist. For the spiritualist, God is remote; for the materialist, God is, at best, absent. And this is why I said that materialism was a rejection of spiritualism. The materialist, at heart, wanted real answers to real, earthly problems, but instead he got a trite, emotional response—a response that he saw as being empty and bankrupt. He wasn’t given the Mystery of Faith.
            In today’s readings, we see the materialist and the spiritualist. The materialist simply wants bread. The spiritualist simply wants heaven, without the bread. Jesus offers them the heavenly bread. But this is the paradox: how can something heavenly be united to the earthly? This is the Eucharist. This is the Mystery of Faith. This is the heart of the Incarnation. The unity of matter and spirit. Even you are in this image: you are body and soul.
            As such, and because we work with materialists and spiritualists, we must have an integrated understanding of the human person and the Eucharist. We must not be like the materialistic or spiritualistic Gentiles. Rather, we must see ourselves as unity of body, blood, soul, and humanity; and we must then see the Eucharist as Jesus’ very body, blood, soul, and divinity—given to us not to make us angels, but to turn us simple men into gods-- the God who became Man-- "one body, one spirit in Christ"! And with the further purpose that we can then turn as we depart today and assist our fellow man.

"What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?

            Our materialistic friend cannot help but focus on his checkbook when it is low, or maybe he thinks life is all about the acquisition of stuff. But he is like the Olympian who pursues the gold medal—what happens after he gets it, or if never? How depressed our materialistic thoughts make us! This calls us to turn our minds and hearts to the spiritual: to prayer, to the divine, to heaven. But we also do that through the material—for we are oriented that way too. And so, for example, when someone we know is grieving a loss, we bring them into contact with God’s love by giving them a hug, a helping hand, a material sign of love, and we listen. We serve. Then, when the time is right and their heart and mind is ready, we can give the spiritual truth. And if we are grieving a loss, we must seek out our neighbor and not isolate ourselves…

            Our spiritualistic friend cannot help but try to escape the world through trite emotionalism or an avoidance of the earthly stuff of life-- like the Cross. Spiritualists require the renewal of their mind through disciplined study and prayer so that they do not devolve into trite emotionalism—that is, basing their faith on how they feel. They must bear the cross, lean into suffering, contemplate the Stations of the Cross, meditate on the earthly stuff of Jesus’ life....

My friends, let me end today in the way I began, with a question: How would our living be different if we lived as though God is personally present among us right now? For He is truly here. Not just spiritually, but substantially. He doesn’t just give us bread. He doesn’t just give us something spiritual. But He gives us His very self, The Bread of Heaven, His very Body... Blood... Soul... and Divinity.